Leviticus 13





A third cause of uncleanness is found in a third class of offensive or repulsive objects.

There is no disease which produces so foul an appearance in the human form as

leprosy. There was, therefore, no disease so suitable for creating ceremonial, because

representing spiritual, uncleanness. The name leprosy has been made to cover a number

of diseases similar but not identical in character. There are many spurious forms of

leprosy, and many diseases akin to leprosy which do not now come under discussion.

The disease here dealt with is elephantiasis, especially in its anesthetic form, which is

otherwise called white leprosy. The two varieties of elephantiasis — the tuberculated

and the anesthetic — are, however, so closely connected together that they cannot be

separated, the one often running into the other. The first symptom of the malady is a

painless spot, which covers an indolent ulcer. This ulcer may continue unprogressive for

months or for years, during which the person affected is able to do his ordinary business;

but at the end of these periods, whether longer or shorter, it produces a more repulsive

and foul disfigurement of the human face and frame than any known disease, the features

of the face changing their character, and part of the body occasionally mortifying and

dropping off. Death at last comes suddenly, when a vital part of the body has been

affected.  The home of leprosy has in all ages been Syria and Egypt and the countries

adjacent to them, but Europe has not escaped the scourge. In the Middle Ages, no

European country was free from it; London had at one time six leper houses; cases

were found not unfrequently in Scotland till the middle of the last century; (18th ? –

CY – 2010) and there was a death certified by medical science to have resulted from

leprosy in the city of Norwich in the year 1880.  (The following description is given by the

physican who attended the sufferer – “The case of leprosy occurred in a man aged

58.  He had suffered for many years from a severe scaly disease of his skin; the last

two or three years of his life it assumed the form of true leprosy, such as one reads

of as having occurred in former times.  His skin became thick, hard, and hyper-

trophical, and formed one mass of large scales, covering the whole of his body,

including his face and head, both of which were greatly swollen; indeed, he seemed

as if he were incased in a large scaly envelope.  The movement of his joints produced

deep, painful, and bleeding fissures.  The nails also became misshapen, rough, and

ragged, and were replaced by scaly incrustations.  After lingering for some months

in this condition,  he died in November, 1880.  I believe the case was a typical case

of leprosy, or as nearly allied to it as possible.”).  The object of the regulations relating

to leprosy is no more sanitary than of those relating to unclean meats. Like the latter,

they may have served a sanitary purpose, for leprosy is, according to the prevailing medical

opinion, slightly, though only slightly, contagious. Because leprosy was hideous and foul, it

therefore made the man affected by it unclean, and before he could be restored to

communion with God and his people, he must be certified by God’s priest to be delivered

from the disease. As in the previous cases, physical ugliness and defilement represent

spiritual depravity and viciousness. “The Levitical law concerning leprosy reveals to us the

true nature of sin. It shows its hideousness and its foulness, and fills us with shame, hatred,

and loathing for it. And it reveals to us the inestimable benefit which we have received from

the incarnation of the Son of God, ‘the Sun of Righteousness, with healing in His

wings(Malachi 4:2); and fills us with joy, thankfulness, and love to Him for his infinite

goodness to us” (Wordsworth). Leprosy, the most loathsome of all common diseases, is

the type and symbol of sin, and the ceremonial uncleanness attaching to it is a parable of

the moral foulness of sin.


1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, saying,  2 When a man shall have

in the skin of his flesh a rising, a scab, or bright spot, and it be in the skin of his

flesh like the plague of leprosy; then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest,” -  

That the regulations respecting leprosy were not sanitary arrangements, as has been

sometimes represented, is indicated by the authority over the leper being vested in the

priest rather than in the physician, and the question of whether a man was a leper or

no being decided by the former rather than the latter. It is to be noted also that the

priest is not made unclean by his contact with the leper, because he is in the

performance of his duty – “or unto one of his sons the priests:  3 And the priest

shall look on the plague in the skin of the flesh: and when the hair in the plague

is turned white, and the plague in sight be deeper than the skin of his flesh, it is

a plague of leprosy: and the priest shall look on him, and pronounce him unclean. 

4 If the bright spot be white in the skin of his flesh, and in sight be not deeper

than the skin, and the hair thereof be not turned white; then the priest shall shut

up him that hath the plague seven days: - The priest is to delay his judgment for a

week, and, if necessary, for a second week, during which period the patient is, according

to the rendering, either to be confined to his house or, more probably, to have the spot

bandaged. Whether the disease be or be not leprosy will probably have declared itself

by the end of that time -  5 And the priest shall look on him the seventh day: and,

behold, if the plague in his sight be at a stay, and the plague spread not in the

skin; then the priest shall shut him up seven days more:  6 And the priest shall

look on him again the seventh day: and, behold, if the plague be somewhat dark,

and the plague spread not in the skin, the priest shall pronounce him clean: it is

but a scab: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean.  7 But if the scab spread

much abroad in the skin, after that he hath been seen of the priest for his

cleansing, he shall be seen of the priest again.  8 And if the priest see that,

behold, the scab spreadeth in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean:

it is a leprosy.  9 When the plague of leprosy is in a man, then he shall be brought

unto the priest;  10 And the priest shall see him: and, behold, if the rising be white

in the skin, and it have turned the hair white” - and if a third symptom be present —

ifthere be quick raw flesh in the rising” -  that is, if there be an ulcer underneath the

white scab, there is to be no delay, as in the previous case, but judgment is to be passed

at once. The priest shall pronounce him unclean, and shall not shut him up: for he is

manifestly unclean.  11 It is an old leprosy in the skin of his flesh, and the priest

shall pronounce him unclean, and shall not shut him up: for he is unclean. 

12 And if a leprosy break out abroad in the skin, and the leprosy cover all the

skin of him that hath the plague from his head even to his foot, wheresoever

the priest looketh;  13 Then the priest shall consider: and, behold, if the

leprosy have covered all his flesh, he shall pronounce him clean that hath the

plague: it is all turned white: he is clean.  14 But when raw flesh appeareth in

him, he shall be unclean.  15 And the priest shall see the raw flesh, and

pronounce him to be unclean: for the raw flesh is unclean: it is a leprosy.

16 Or if the raw flesh turn again, and be changed unto white, he shall come unto

the priest; 17 And the priest shall see him: and, behold, if the plague be turned

into white; then the priest shall pronounce him clean that hath the plague: he is

clean.  18 The flesh also, in which, even in the skin thereof, was a boil, and is

healed,  19 And in the place of the boil there be a white rising, or a bright spot,

white, and somewhat reddish, and it be shewed to the priest;  20 And if, when the

priest seeth it, behold, it be in sight lower than the skin, and the hair thereof be

turned white; the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a plague of leprosy

broken out of the boil.  21 But if the priest look on it, and, behold, there be no

white hairs therein, and if it be not lower than the skin, but be somewhat dark;

then the priest shall shut him up seven days:  22 And if it spread much abroad in

the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a plague.  23 But if the

bright spot stay in his place, and spread not, it is a burning boil; and the priest

shall pronounce him clean. - The method of discriminating between a leprous spot

and the reappearing scar of an old ulcer. A reappearing ulcer is to be regarded

as leprous it’ it have the characteristic marks of leprosy; that is, if it be below the

cuticle, and the hairs round it arc turned white. If it has not these marks, it has to be

watched for seven days, and if in that time it does not spread, it is to be declared a

burning boil, or rather an ulcerous scar, in which case the priest shall pronounce

 him clean - 24 Or if there be any flesh, in the skin whereof there is a hot burning”

If there be any flesh, in the skin whereof there is a burning of fire; that is, a scar from

a burn, The leprous spot and the scar are to be distinguished as in the previous case.

An old ulcer or burn is a more likely place for a leprous spot to appear than any part

of the body which is sound, just as in the moral sphere sin fixes on some old wound

of the soul to burst out in – “and the quick flesh that burneth have a white bright spot,

somewhat reddish, or white;  25 Then the priest shall look upon it: and, behold, if

the hair in the bright spot be turned white, and it be in sight deeper than the skin;

it is a leprosy broken out of the burning: wherefore the priest shall pronounce him

unclean: it is the plague of leprosy.  26 But if the priest look on it, and, behold,

there be no white hair in the bright spot, and it be no lower than the other skin,

but be somewhat dark; then the priest shall shut him up seven days:

27 And the priest shall look upon him the seventh day: and if it be spread

much abroad in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is the

plague of leprosy.  28 And if the bright spot stay in his place, and spread not in

the skin, but it be somewhat dark; it is a rising of the burning, and the priest shall

pronounce him clean: for it is an inflammation of the burning.  29 If a man or

woman have a plague upon the head or the beard;  30 Then the priest shall see

the plague: and, behold, if it be in sight deeper than the skin; and there be in it a

yellow thin hair; then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a dry scall, even

a leprosy upon the head or beard.  31 And if the priest look on the plague of the

scall, and, behold, it be not in sight deeper than the skin, and that there is no black

hair in it; then the priest shall shut up him that hath the plague of the scall

seven days:  32 And in the seventh day the priest shall look on the plague: and,

behold, if the scall spread not, and there be in it no yellow hair, and the scall be

not in sight deeper than the skin;  33 He shall be shaven, but the scall shall he

not shave; and the priest shall shut up him that hath the scall seven days more: 

34 And in the seventh day the priest shall look on the scall: and, behold, if the

scall be not spread in the skin, nor be in sight deeper than the skin; then the

priest shall pronounce him clean: and he shall wash his clothes, and be clean. 

35 But if the scall spread much in the skin after his cleansing;  36 Then the priest

shall look on him: and, behold, if the scall be spread in the skin, the priest shall

not seek for yellow hair; he is unclean.  37 But if the scall be in his sight at a stay,

and that there is black hair grown up therein; the scall is healed, he is clean: and

the priest shall pronounce him clean.  38 If a man also or a woman have in the skin

of their flesh bright spots, even white bright spots;  39 Then the priest shall look:

and, behold, if the bright spots in the skin of their flesh be darkish white; it is a

freckled spot that groweth in the skin; he is clean.  40 And the man whose hair is

fallen off his head, he is bald; yet is he clean.  41 And he that hath his hair fallen

off from the part of his head toward his face, he is forehead bald: yet is he clean. 

42 And if there be in the bald head, or bald forehead, a white reddish sore; it is a

leprosy sprung up in his bald head, or his bald forehead.  43 Then the priest shall

look upon it: and, behold, if the rising of the sore be white reddish in his bald head,

or in his bald forehead, as the leprosy appeareth in the skin of the flesh;  44 He

is a leprous man, he is unclean: the priest shall pronounce him utterly unclean;

his plague is in his head.” - Leprosy appearing on the bald head. (vs. 40-44) Though

leprosy makes the hair drop off around the leprous spot, baldness is in itself no sign of

leprosy, whether at the back or front of the head (verses 40, 41); but as the bald

head is a not unusual place for the leprous spot to appear, any eruption upon it is

therefore to be watched and tested as before - 45 And the leper in whom the plague

is, his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put a covering upon

his upper lip, and shall cry, Unclean, unclean.  46 All the days wherein the

plague shall be in him he shall be defiled; he is unclean: he shall dwell alone;

without the camp shall his habitation be.”  The leper in whom the plague is to be

exeluded from the camp, lest others should contract defilement from him. He is for the

same reason to cry, Unclean, unclean, lest any wayfarer should unwittingly come in

contact with him; and his clothes shall be rent, and his head bare, and he shall put

a covering upon his upper lip, these being the signs of mourning for the dead. The bared

or disheveled head (see ch. 10:6) and the covered lip are incidentally mentioned as signs

of mourning in Ezekiel 24:17, and the covered upper lip as a mark of shame in Micah

3:7. By the expression, He shall dwell alone, is meant he shall dwell apart from those who

were clean. Of course, lepers would naturally associate with each other, (leper

colony) and so  we find that they actually did (Luke 17:12). As their presence was

supposed to defile any place that they entered, they were punished in later times with

forty stripes if they did not observe the restraints laid down for them. “They were, however,

admitted to the synagogue, where a place was railed off for them, ten handbreadths high

and four cubits wide, on condition of their entering the house of worship before the rest

of the congregation and leaving it after them” (Edersheim, ‘Temple Service’). The exclusion

of the leper was not for the purpose of avoiding contagion, nor to serve as a penalty for

having contracted so loathsome a disease, but primarily to prevent the spread of ceremonial

uncleanness communicated by his touch, and typically and mystically to teach that the fate

brought upon a man by unremoved sin is separation from the people of God HERE




                                    Leprosy Regarded as a Type of Sin


Leprosy is regarded as the type of sin in a more especial way than other foul and ugly things.

Affections of the body often serve as means of representing to ourselves the affections of

the mind, This is witnessed to by ordinary language. The words, “see,”

perceive,” “feel,” originally expressive of bodily acts, have come to signify

mental acts, and so in other cases, “healthy,” “diseased,” “upright,” “debased,” are

words which we apply to men in their moral even more than in their physical capacity

(Isaiah 1:5-6, “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of

the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises,

and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither

mollified with ointment”). Points of similarity between leprosy as it affects the body

and sin as it affects the soul are:


  • ITS MYSTERIOUS ORIGIN. Whether by hereditary transmission or for other

      untraceable causes, it makes its appearance in the flesh of those whom it attacks

      without any special personal act of theirs to have brought it on.


  • ITS SLIGHT BEGINNING. It appears to be as nothing — as a mere spot in

      the skin, such as often comes and goes without injury.


  • ITS PAINLESSNESS IN ITS FIRST STAGES. It does not interfere with the

      common pleasures or occupations of life. There is a spot which a keen eye may

      observe, but it causes no trouble, and men go on anticipating no evil from it.


  • THE SLOWNESS OF ITS GROWTH. “Sometimes months, sometimes years,

      even to the extent of twenty or thirty years, intervene between the first

      appearance of the spots and their development” (Gardiner). “Very frequently,   

      even for years, before the actual outbreak of the disease itself, white yellowish  

      spots are seen lying deep in the skin” (Trusen, ‘Krankheiten der Alter Hebr.’).

      In other cases it develops more rapidly, according to the part of the body in

      which it has fixed itself, and the general health of the patient.


  • ITS INSIDIOUSNESS. After it has long continued without producing

            mischief, the person affected recovers hope, and thinks that no harm will

            come of it, but the evil remains, and waits its time for exhibiting itself,

            hiding itself meantime and lingering in the system.



      THAT IT APPEARS, “It is asserted that it yields to medical treatment in its

      earliest stages, when the spots first appear, and a number of distinct cases of

      cure are recorded. After the leprosy has once acquired a certain degree of        

      development, there is no known means of cure. Everything hitherto attempted

      has been found to rather aggravate than mitigate the disorder. It is certain that,  

      after it has once become developed to any considerable extent, it is incurable by           

      any remedies at present known, although spontaneous cures do sometimes occur”


  • ITS FINAL HIDEOUSNESS. First it affects the hair around the spot, and

      changes its color and its character till at last it falls off. “The spots afterwards     

      pierce through the cellular tissues and reach the muscles and bone. Hard           

      gelatinous swellings are formed in the cellular tissue; the skin gets hard, rough,   

      and seamy, lymph exudes from it, and forms large scabs, which fall off from

      time to time, and under these there are often offensive running sores. The nails   

      then swell, curl up, and fall off, entropium is formed, with bleeding gums, the    

      nose stopped up, and a considerable flow of saliva” (Trusen). “A characteristic

      of the disease is the horribly repulsive features of its later stages, when the face  

      becomes shockingly disfigured, and often the separate joints of the body become

            mortified and drop off one by one” (Gardiner).


  • THE SUFFERING ENTAILED BY IT AT LAST. AS if to make up for the

      painlessness of its earlier stages, it not only causes in its final stage a constant

      pain of body, but a distress of mind and horror on the part of the sufferer at

      having become so loathsome and offensive an object to himself and to others.


  • ITS UNEXPECTED ENDING. “A characteristic of the disease is its usually

      sudden and unexpected termination at the last, when the leprosy reaches some

      vital organ, and gives rise to secondary disease, often dysentery, by which life

      is ended” (Gardiner). “The patient gets thin and weak, diarrhea sets in, and

      incessant thirst and. burning fever terminate his sufferings” (Trusen).


  • ITS LIKENESS TO A LIVING DEATH. “Leprosy was not merely the

            emblem of sin, but of death, to which, so to speak, it stood related, as does

            our actual sinfulness to our state of sin and death before God. A rabbinical

            saying ranks lepers with those who may be regarded as dead” (Edersheim),

            In all these respects, by the bodily state of the leper was manifested and

            parabolically set forth the state of the soul given up to the dominion of sin.

            Like leprosy, sin springs up mysteriously in the heart, owing to some

            previously existing, corruption; at first it does not cause pain, but it

            promises pleasure, and gives some enjoyment to the senses; its true

            character is often not developed for years, but it gradually takes more and

            more possession of the soul, till it becomes unconquerable by any internal

            or human power; then it shows itself in its true form, repulsive instead of

            attractive, full of pain instead of pleasure, ending in a sudden destruction

            and a death of the soul.




ü      Negative. Avoid those things which will bring the soul into a state

                        analogous to the leprous body. “Enter not into the path of the wicked,                                 

                        and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it                             

                        and pass away.” (Proverbs 4:14-15) - “For the lips of a strange woman                            

                        drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: but her                                 

                        end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go                               

                        down to death; her steps take hold on hell  Remove thy way far from                              

                        her, and come not nigh the door of her house: lest thou give thine                                    

                        honor unto others, and thy years unto the cruel: lest strangers be                                    

                        filled with thy wealth; and thy labors be in the house of a

                        stranger; and thou mourn at the last, when thy flesh and thy body

                        are consumed, and say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart                                

                        despised reproof; and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor                              

                        inclined mine ear to them that instructed me!” (Proverbs 5:8-13) –

                        “Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths.                                

                        For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have                                

                        been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the                                    

                        chambers of death” – (Proverbs 7:25-27)


ü      Positive. Seek those things which’ will give health and strength to the

                        soul. “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth

                        understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the                                               

                        merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold, She is

                        more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are

                        not to be compared unto her.  Length of days is in her right hand;

                        and in her left hand riches and honor. Her ways are ways of                                             

                        pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them                            

                        that lay hold. upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her”                                  

                        (Proverbs 3:13-18).  “Thou wilt shew me the path of life:  in thy

                        presence is fullness of joy; at thy right hand are pleasures for ever-

                        more.  (Psalm 16:11)


            The Extrusion of the Leper from the Camp is a Type of Excommunication                                                          

                                                from the Christian Church.


The right of separating from the community such as will not submit to discipline belongs to all

bodies secular and ecclesiastical. Civil societies exercise this right by inflicting the penalties of

death, imprisonment, or exile; the Church’s penalty is suspension of communion, or

excommunication.  The purpose of the exclusion of the leper was to prevent legal uncleanness

being spread by his means: the purpose of the excommunication of the sinner is twofold —

partly for his own benefit, partly for that of the community. The power of admitting into the

Church and excluding from it by the use of the proper means was promised to Peter

(Matthew 16:19), and given to all the apostles (Matthew 18:15-18; John 20:23). The power

of admission was exercised every time that baptism was administered, that of exclusion was

exercised by Paul in the case of the incestuous Corinthian (I Corinthians 5:3-5), and in the

case of Hymenaeus and Alexander (I Timothy 1:20). Paul incidentally states that the purpose

of their excommunication was:


  • “to deliver such an one unto Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that

            the spirit may he saved in the day of the Lord Jesus;” and


  • to purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump” (I Corinthians 5:5-6).


So far as the effect on others is concerned, the  severance of the leper has an analogous

object with that of the severance of the sinner; but the effect of the Church’s discipline

on the soul of the sinner ought to have a result which the penalty inflicted on the leper could

not bring about. What this result should be is shown in the case of the incestuous Corinthian.

The reproof was stern and the punishment sharp, but it produced repentance, and then the

continuance of the infliction of the penalty ceased. “Sufficient to such a man is this

punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to

forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with

overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward

him(II Corinthians 2:6-8). Church discipline is a condition of the well-being of the Church,

and it must be put in practice in the case of both immorality (I Corinthians 5) and heresy

(I Timothy 1:20), but no Church discipline can have good results which has not for its first

object the good of the sinner, and which is not exercised in the spirit of love. There have been

periods in the history of the Church when a sincere desire to prevent contamination by

supposed heterodox teaching has wrought far more harm than could have been produced

by any amount of liberty or license, whether of thought, or speech, or act.



                                    LEPROSY IN CLOTHES (vs. 47-59)


47 The garment also that the plague of leprosy is in, whether it be a woollen garment,

or a linen garment; 48 Whether it be in the warp, or woof; of linen, or of woollen;

whether in a skin, or in any thing made of skin; 49 And if the plague be greenish or

reddish in the garment, or in the skin, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any

thing of skin; it is a plague of leprosy, and shall be shewed unto the priest:

50 And the priest shall look upon the plague, and shut up it that hath the plague

seven days: 51 And he shall look on the plague on the seventh day: if the plague

be spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in a skin, or in any

work that is made of skin; the plague is a fretting leprosy; it is unclean.  52 He

shall therefore burn that garment, whether warp or woof, in woollen or in linen,

or any thing of skin, wherein the plague is: for it is a fretting leprosy; it shall be

burnt in the fire.  53 And if the priest shall look, and, behold, the plague be not

spread in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any thing of skin; 

54 Then the priest shall command that they wash the thing wherein the plague is,

and he shall shut it up seven days more:  55 And the priest shall look on the plague,

after that it is washed: and, behold, if the plague have not changed his color, and the

plague be not spread; it is unclean; thou shalt burn it in the fire; it is fret

inward, whether it be bare within or without.  56 And if the priest look, and,

behold, the plague be somewhat dark after the washing of it; then he shall rend

it out of the garment, or out of the skin, or out of the warp, or out of the woof:

57 And if it appear still in the garment, either in the warp, or in the woof, or in any

thing of skin; it is a spreading plague: thou shalt burn that wherein the plague is

with fire. 58 And the garment, either warp, or woof, or whatsoever thing of skin

it be, which thou shalt wash, if the plague be departed from them, then it shall be

washed the second time, and shall be clean.  59 This is the law of the plague of

leprosy in a garment of woollen or linen, either in the warp, or woof, or any thing

of skins, to pronounce it clean, or to pronounce it unclean.”



                                                  On Purity of Garments


There are passages in different parts of Holy Scripture which it is necessary to put together in

order to get a comprehensive view of what only at first sight appears to be a slight subject.


  • The first result of the Fall was a consciousness of sin on the part of Adam and Eve,

      which caused a sense of their nakedness. This nakedness they in vain attempted to

      cover by aprons of fig leaves (Genesis 3:7).  But their self-made covering was not

      sufficient; they “were afraid because they were naked, and they hid themselves

      from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden”

      (Genesis 3:8, 10). God’s first gift to man after sentence had been passed upon

      him was that of clothes: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God

      make coats of skins, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). This gift is the more

      significant in that the Hebrew word used for “atonement” is “covering. Here,

      then, in God’s first gift to man was foreshadowed his future gift of an atonement.

      “The outward and corporeal here manifestly had respect to the inward and spiritual.

      The covering of the nakedness was a gracious token from the hand of God that

      the sin which had alienated them from Him and made them conscious of

      uneasiness was henceforth to be in His sight as if it were not; so that in

      covering their flesh, He at the same time covered their consciences.…

      It was done purposely to denote the covering of guilt from

            the eye of Heaven — an act which God alone could have done” (Fairbairn,

            ‘Typology of Scripture’). The more that we consider the force of the

            Hebrew term for “atonement,” the more significance shall we attach to the

            first gift of coats. “To expiate, literally, to cover up, does not mean to

            cause a sin not to have been committed, for that is impossible; nor to

            represent it as having no existence, for that would be opposed to the

            earnestness of the Law; nor to pay or compensate it by any performance;

            but to cover it before God, i.e., to deprive it of its power to come between

            us and God” (Kahnis).


  • We have seen with what care God appointed “holy garments” for the

            Jewish priesthood, “for glory and for beauty” (Exodus 28:2,40; 39:1-43;

            ch. 8:7-9), and special instructions are afterwards given as to the dress to be

            worn by the high priest when he entered the holy of holies (ch. 16.; cf. Psalm    



  • Uncleanness derived from the touch of unclean things entailed washing the clothes         

      worn at the time (chps. 11:28, 40; 16:26).


  • In Zechariah 3:3-5 we read, “Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments,

      and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that

      stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And

      unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee,

      and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. And I said, Let them set a

      fair mitre upon his head. So they set a fair mitre upon his head, and

      clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord stood by.” Here

            we are directly taught that filthy garments typify iniquity, and that the

            removal of filthy garments typifies the passing away of iniquity. Isaiah

            explains the meaning of the putting on of new garments: “He hath clothed

            me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of

            righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a

            bride adorneth herself with her jewels” (Isaiah 61:10).


From these passages of the Old Testament we find that clothing is connected with the idea

of atonement, that God will not be approached except in holy garments, that foul garments

typify iniquity, that garments which have contracted ceremonial uncleanness must be washed,

that clean garments typify salvation and righteousness.  From the New Testament we learn

what are the materials of the robe of salvation. They are the righteousness of Christ

 imputed to man — such is the argument of the Epistle to the Romans and the Epistle to

the Galatians — and the righteousness inwrought in man by the indwelling of the

 Holy Ghost “for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Revelation 19:8).

If these form the materials of the Christian’s spiritual raiment, there will appear no leprosy

or mildew either in warp or woof. But if in place of one of these there be employed human

merit or sanctity or other material, the plague will appear in the garment. “And the

 priest shall rend it out of the garment, or out of the skin, or out  of the warp,

or out of the woof: and if it appear still in the garment, either in the warp,

or in the woof, or in anything of skin; it is a spreading plague; thou shall burn

that wherein the plague is with fire.”  (vs. 56-57) -  But there is this difference

between leprosy in the garment and leprosy in the flesh, that in the former case the

man may still be saved: “It shall he revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s

work of what sort it is.… If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer

loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (I Corinthians 3:13-15). And

therefore Jude, in special reference to this passage, writes, “And of some have

compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of

the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 1:22-23). The

Christian is to hold in abhorrence “the garment” defiled with a like disease to that

which attacks “the flesh,” and is to cast it into the fire, but at the same time he is to

pull the wearer himself “out of the fire,” “saving” him “with fear.” If the disease

be true leprosy, but has not penetrated deeper than the garment, the garment must

be burnt, but the wearer may still be “saved; yet so as by fire;” it will be a

work of “fear” and anxiety. If it be not true leprosy, and even if it be — for

here the antitype transcends the type — it will be possible to “wash his

robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14).


Warning “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou

mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that

the shame of thy nakedness do not appear” (Revelation 3:18). “Blessed

is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they

see his shame” (Revelation 16:15). Friend, how camest thou in hither

not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless” (Matthew 22:12).



"Excerpted text Copyright AGES Library, LLC. All rights reserved.

Materials are reproduced by permission."


This material can be found at: